By OLIVIA CHRISTIE
Alfie Hewett said he is honoured to be able to put disability sport on the map as he collected his SJA award for male para-athlete of the year at the 2022 British Sports Awards.
It has been a remarkable year for the Bill McGowran Trophy winner, who walks away from 2022 with two Grand Slam doubles titles and the US Open singles crown.
Hewett also helped propel wheelchair tennis into the media spotlight when he reached the singles final of Wimbledon in July.
He said: “I’m very excited to be here at the SJA awards. It’s a great place to come and I’m extremely grateful for the award.
“It’s fantastic to be able to recognise the amazing things that the wheelchair tennis has done, and I have contributed to that.”
Competing in a staggering seven Grand Slam finals across singles and doubles this year, the 21-time champion has plenty of sporting highlights to choose from in 2022.
Hewett said: “I’ve had a lot of good moments from 2022 but if I had to pinpoint one of them it would be playing on No.1 Court at Wimbledon in my semi-final singles match.
“It was a massive occasion for me personally but also for the sport to be playing in front of 10,000 people and live on the BBC as well.
“This kind of exposure can do wonders for the sport at a grassroots level and generally raise awareness of it. Young kids for example maybe aren’t even aware that the sport exists.”
Hewett has won all 15 of his grand slam doubles titles with partner Gordon Reid and the 24-year-old praised Reid in his award acceptance speech.
He said: “We’ve worked hard for seven or eight years now but we’ve had a bit of a rough year. He’s had some injuries, but we still managed to win Roland Garros and the Australian Open.
“However, I think he’s got a new hunger for the sport after being away from tennis for most of the last 14 months or so, but I look forward to the future with him.
“Obviously, there’s a few more medals that I would like to win, but the Paralympic gold medal is an achievement that we as a partnership are yet to win.
“The Paralympics are obviously at the back of my mind at the moment, but Paris 2024 is certainly on the horizon.”
Olivia Christie is a member of the SJA Academy – open to aspiring sports journalists from across the UK. Free to join, find out more here.